Four First Songs (To Remember Richard Strauss)

I choose not to revise these poems, imperfect as they are.  I shall let them testify to a mastery that is still in progress.

 

I

The mourning sky is in stasis, bereft

Of both starling and star.  Beneath its pall,

Trekkers through a snow-waste feel the slow theft

Of their senses.  Blinded by White, some fall

Into a muffled sleep–blue from the tip

Of their nose, to curled up fingers and toes.

The ghost that hovers on their trembling lips

Is cursed, and earth-bound in a rope of cold.

The heartsick are in love with horizons.

There, a feathered sky encircles an orb.

Aviaries open in the gardens;

Their liberated doves begin to soar.

All the other seasons pass the time there.

Here, a clipped-winged zombie stares in despair.

 

December 8, 2009

December 12, 2009

 

II

The sun crowns the brow of the equinox.

Birds are unfurling the span of their wings,

Each a caduceus banishing Nox.

Shut-ins heal, as if decreed by a king.

Those who were shunned are stunned by the kisses

Of sunlight, while the nun in a courtyard,

Also touched, will begin to reminisce,

Knowing roses are rooted in bone shard.

A field of husks rattles a threnody

For the shriveled scare-crow’s corpse by the copse,

Silhouetted at dusk.  The melodies

Of the winged are forgotten or mocked.

God wakes, but grieves what He cannot put right:

That first spring’s life, so long lost from His sight.

 

January 9 – February 3, 2010

 

III

(The Lawrence Tree By Georgia O’Keefe)

The black birds nest on the quivering boughs,

Each feathered head at rest beneath its wing.

The wind soughs without surcease.  Branches bow

To the woman lying alone, veiling

With their shadowy camouflage the sight

Of an omnipotent, beckoning star.

Below such cruel clarity she lies

Shivering–behind her head, her crossed arms.

The land is at peace on mid-summer’s night;

She is not.  The staring constellations

Have captured her, and cauterize the blight

Of comfort with stern interrogations.

God bends from heaven to kiss us awake,

As prisoners of unrequited pain.

 

February 13 – March 5, 2010

 

IV

Dedicated to Stephen A. Golden II

Three birds take wing off the bough of red leaves,

As if the wind has scythed them too.  They float

Above a lake of hues, one sinking deep

Enough to reach the horizon that woke

It into existence.  Now, it returns

From the dreams of the children who have prayed

Before sleep.  Bird-song sings of what we yearn

To ink upon His golden tome’s last page.

Those leaves of red are loosed to drift away.

They halo the head-stones of the sinners

Who haunted God’s purpose, taunting His face

Crimson.  All come to love Him forever.

The Deity burns in His Creation,

The distant stars, His dim diminutions.

 

March 20 – April 18, 2010

June 1, 2010

June 4, 2010

June 18, 2010

November 1, 2010

 

IV

(Alternate Version)

Three birds take wing off the bough of red leaves,

As if the wind has scythed them too.  They float

Above a lake of hues, one sinking deep

Enough to reach the horizon that woke

It into existence.  Now it returns

From the dreams of the heartsick who have prayed

Before sleep.  Bird-song sings of what we yearn

To ink upon His golden tome’s last page.

Those leaves of red are loosed to drift away

To a smoldering fire, the smell of smoke

A solace from the pyres that scar His face

Crimson.  Mindful of the heart that has broke,

The Deity declines His Creation,

The distant stars, His dim diminutions.

 

February 20, 2011

February 25, 2011

April 24, 2011


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